Keeping your home warm and cozy
With heating bills headed for record highs, Gerri Willis tells you how you to insulate your wallet.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Heating your home this winter is going to cost you a lot more according to Energy Information Administration. In fact, Americans will spend $977 to heat their homes this year, 10% more than last year. But insulating your home you can help keep shave those costs. Here's the best way to do so.
1. Get the R-Value
An R-Value is a measure of how well insulation keeps heat inside your house. The higher the R-Value of insulation, the warmer it will keep the room. R-Values vary by geographic location.
For example, you'll need a higher R-Value if you live in the Northeast than if you live in the Midwest. Check what the recommended R-Value is in your region by clicking onto the Department of Energy's recommended values at www.simplyinsulate.com/howmuch.html.
As a rule of thumb, you'll probably want at least an R-value of 30 in your attic, says the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association.
2. Measure existing insulation
Before insulating your attic, you'll want to know how much R-value you already have in your insulation. An easy way to do this is to measure the thickness of the current insulation and multiply that number by three. That will give you a rough approximation of the kind of R-Value that's in your attic.
And if you do add insulation, don't forget that the R-value of the first material can just be added to the new insulation. For example, if you measure an R-value of 12 and you get insulation with an R-value of 20, your total R-value will be 32.
3. Choose your insulation
If you have unfinished attic walls that are free of obstructions, like pipes or switch boxes, you may want to consider getting batts or rolls of insulation.
Fiberglass is cheap at about $.38 a square foot, but there have been health concerns about airborne fibers associated with this material. Consider using cellulose insulation. It's still relatively cheap and made largely of recycled material.
If your attic has a lot of obstructions that would interfere with batts, consider blowing insulation material into your ceiling. You can rent an insulation blower from your local home improvement store to insulate your attic.
Some stores will even give you a free day rental if you buy insulation material. Spray foam insulation seals better than either fiberglass or cellulose. The problem is that is costs about four times as much as batt fiberglass and it must be installed by a professional contractor.
If you're looking to blow-in insulation to your walls, you'll want to call a professional contractor.
4. Avoid fire
If you have a flue or recessed attic lights, you'll want to keep materials two inches away from it. Make sure that any lights that are in your attic have the letters "IC" which stands for "insulation contact."